Written and drawn by Sam Bosma
Published by NoBrow Press
Oversized hardback. 56 pages. Full colour
“A fast-paced sports adventure graphic novel in the vein of 1960s manga, Mike Mignola and Raiders of the Los Ark.”
The Story: Sam Bosma’s debut graphic novel finds the unlikely duo of Mages called Mean Mug (he’s the big angry one) and Wiz-Kid (she’s the calmer, more talented one) come face to face with a lanky undead wizard in a city populated by him and a bundle of humorous and slightly thick skeletons. Our two mismatched heroes have been sent to this city of a tomb to plunder it of its riches an secrets. In order to fufil their mission they get challenged to a game of basketball. The undead turn out to be pretty good at it…
The Review: Just released by the ever excellent NoBrow Press, the format of Fantasy Sports Volume One is an outstanding, oversized (215 x 300mm) full colour hard back. Content wise, it’s bordering on the “all ages” market – but be warned if you are buying it for the younger audience, there are a couple of moments of “cartoony” violence.
The sparks a little, in my humble opinion, of the underground artists of years gone by. It is wonderfully outside of the mainstream, winkingly knowing and gloriously pitched.
This really reminded me of an amped up version of something like the 1980s French-Japanese animated series The Mysterious Cities of Gold , crossed with some Fist of the North Star anime/manga. It wastes no time in getting started and throws you into panel after panel of shouty excitement. Its premise mixes some fantasy and magic with some science adventure, with bold and brash characters who wear their hearts on their sleeves in every line of hilarious dialogue.
In many ways, Fantasy Sports is a little like a beautifully drawn video game on paper, in that it takes you through challenges and levels until you reach that ultimate panel. The art and colour combine to offer a story of strikingly detailed and epic proportions and you feel the dense environment around the characters. Its arena scenes, especially, are incredibly well done.
Saying all that though, it’s not normal. It is very weird and strange on purpose. Arrows become hotdogs, mummys turn into demonic basketball players and skeletons run around talking about their “keys”. It’s this sort of weirdly observed humour and crazy catchphrases that had me glued until the tense ending.
Each volume of this series is set to make use of one sport, this story obviously being basketball. Sports writing isn’t as common these days as it has been in the past. It requires a different pacing from other forms of comics and Sam has managed to catch this perfectly. The inevitable final basket shot keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat masterfully.
This is a book of non-stop fun and well worth your money.
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.